All Service Combat Identification Evaluation Team
by Captain James R. Stone
Sir, both Aegis cruisers have checked in, we have
comms with AWACS and Rivet Joint, both OPFOR and BLUFOR
helicopters are in the area, the F-15s are ready to engage, and
it's `Fight's On.' These words initiated the spin-up to the
ASCIET 95, a
live, joint evaluation held 4 through 15 September 1995 in the Gulf
of Mexico near Gulfport, Mississippi.
ASCIET is a joint program designed to improve combat identification
and thereby minimize fratricide among the U.S. Army, Navy, Air
Force, and Marine Corps while maintaining or increasing the
lethality of our Services' weapons employment. The evaluation was
designed to assess and improve the abilities of each of our
Services' combat identification to operate effectively in a joint
environment. In addition, they assessed various concepts of combat
identification in a broad spectrum of areas to include doctrine;
tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP); combat systems; and
Organizationally speaking, the ASCIET works directly for the
General Officer Steering Committee for Combat Identification and
reports to the Joint Requirements Oversight Counsel (JROC). The
ASCIET program is lead by an Air Force colonel whose deputies are
lieutenant colonels (or equivalents) from each of the four
Services. The following list describes the makeup of the remainder
of the ASCIET staff:
Additionally, ASCIET had contractor support from CAS, Inc., the
Center for Naval Analysis, MEVATEC, and Science Applications
International Corporation. Also, many of the participating weapon
system groups comprise seasoned, tactically oriented NCOs.
- Representatives from F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16
Fighting Falcon, AV-8 Harrier, E-2 Hawkeye, RC-135 Rivet Joint, E-3
Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), and UH-60 Black Hawk
- Infantry, armor, field artillery, engineer, air defense
artillery (ADA), and Army aviation officers.
- Officers specifically affiliated with the PATRIOT, HAWK,
and Aegis missile platforms from each of the Services.
- Command and control (C2) experts on the Marine Corps'
Marine Air Command and Control System and Tactical Air Operations
Center (TAOC), as well as the Air Force's Control and Reporting
Element, Control and Reporting Center (CRC), Air Operations Center,
and the ADA Brigade Fire Direction Center.
In preparation for the annual live exercise, ASCIET first conducts
a simulation exercise (SimEx) where they connect the crews from the
C2 platforms, such as Aegis, TAOC, CRC, HAWK, E-3 Hawkeye, ADA
TSQ-73 Missile Minder, and Rivet Joint, and the crews from the
fighters in a distributed interactive simulation of what happens
during the actual exercise. Use of the SimEx verifies the scenario
and TTP used during the live exercise and to conduct integrated
joint crew training.
The air-to-air and surface-to-air battle took place in a littoral
airspace over and around the Gulf of Mexico, while air-to-ground
and ground-to-ground engagements occurred on the Camp Shelby,
Mississippi, range complex. This environment created a realistic
joint battlespace with very likely opportunities for fratricide.
Here is a sample of a day's activities:
- The high-performance opposing force (OPFOR) aircraft the
F-16s, F-111s, and an airframe created to represent an antiship
cruise missile launched from Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola,
Florida. They flew southwest to a warning area off the Gulf Coast
with the mission of performing air interdiction and close air
support (CAS) on the Camp Shelby range complex before returning to
- Blue Force (BLUFOR) high-performance aircraft AV-8s,
F-14s, F-15s, and FA-18s were launched from Gulfport, Mississippi
and represented the good guys. They challenged the OPFOR over the
Gulf of Mexico as the first belt of an established, joint,
integrated air defense (AD).
- The Aegis cruisers, PATRIOT, and HAWK missile systems
assessed all the aircraft as they moved toward their land, shore,
or sea-based targets. These weapons systems exercised datalinks
with the fighters, AWACS, E-2, and E-3 aircraft for a coordinated
- The mission of the BLUFOR jets was combat air patrol to
deter strikers intending to attack the Camp Shelby range complex.
Other jets simulated carrier launchings by departing from a ground
base and flying along a predetermined route to a designated point
in the Gulf. From there, they flew to Camp Shelby via the beachhead
for their close air support (CAS) mission.
- Concurrently, the Aegis class cruisers; the HAWK and
PATRIOT missile elements' command, control, communication and
intelligence nodes; Army forward area air defense; and the Marine
Corps low-altitude air defense elements started sorting the good
guys from the bad and engaging all applicable targets.
- CAS aircraft then proceeded north to the Camp Shelby
- After the CAS mission, the ground battle started with
former Soviet Bloc T-72 tanks and BMP armored vehicles, supported
by HIND and HOPLITE helicopters and an AN-2 COLT, facing Abrams
tanks and some Brad- ley fighting vehicles. M113, light armor
vehicles, and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs)
acted as distracter vehicles that wandered onto the battlefield.
- Army Aviation provided the OH-58DKW Kiowa Warriors and
UH-60 Black Hawks for scout and air assault missions to reinforce
the ground battle.
- Navy SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters were also working over
water in the vicinity of the Aegis cruisers and transitioning
northbound to operate on the battlefield.
To keep an eye toward the future, emerging technologies in ASCIET
95 participated as designated off-line and on-line systems. Some
had subsystems with broad, expandable applications in the joint
environment. The following list enumerates the off-line systems
that participated in ASCIET 95:
Other systems had classifications that restrict them
from being addressed in this paper. ASCIET staff evaluated some
systems for future fratricide avoidance applications. Other systems
were still in the embryonic development phase, brought by the
individual program managers, and evaluated only by their internal
- Situational Awareness Beacon with Reply (SABER).
- Air Defense Communications Platform (ADCP).
- Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL).
- Collection of Broadcasts from Remote Assets (COBRA).
- Automatic Target Hand-Off System II (ATHS II).
- Forward Observer/Forward Air Controller (FO/FAC).
- Battlefield Combat Identification System (BCIS).
- Forward Area Air Defense C2 (FAADC2).
- Non-imaging infrared.
- Appliqu‚ Six, Bloodhound, Radiant Mist, and Eyecatcher
systems for enhanced situational awareness of the battlespace.
ASCIET 95 was an unparalleled joint training event coupled with
data collection in support of a combat identification evaluation.
ASCIET was not evaluating the operators in this exercise; data was
the product. This data will be analyzed and evaluated with the
following questions in mind:
Our successful mission will provide the answers to
these questions. The resulting ASCIET 95 Evaluation Report will go
to JROC, evaluation participants, and will be available through the
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC).
What is next? ASCIET 96 will be held in the fourth quarter of FY
96. The SimEx will be larger because it will include ground
maneuver elements for the first time. This will prepare us for a
larger Army slice with a bigger ground maneuver element consisting
of M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley tanks, fire support team vehicles, and
a Marine light armored vehicle platoon facing real Soviet T-72s and
armored BMP-2s, BTR-70/80 personnel carriers, and BRDM
reconnaissance vehicles. Distracter vehicles will include a "Gray
Force" of M60 tanks, M113s personnel carriers, an M728 Combat
Engineer Vehicle, and M9 Armored Combat Earthmover. In addition,
AH-64, OH-58DKW, Marine AH-1W, and UH-60 helicopters will support
this maneuver element while the fixed-wing fighters provide CAS and
ground AD elements protect the force. The goal is to continue
learning how to improve combat identification among all the
Services so that fewer incidents of fratricide occur in future
- How did each Service use its complex systems in a joint
- How can each Service and weapon system modify its TTP for
- How can we apply these lessons learned to the future
joint battle environment?
Captain Stone is currently attending the Georgia
Institute of Technology to attain a graduate physics degree with a
follow-on assignment at the U.S. Military Academy. His previous
assignments include Engineer Operations Officer for the All-Service
Combat Identification Evaluation Team at Eglin Air Force Base in
Pensacola, Florida; Commander, Alpha Company, 91st Engineer
Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division; and Platoon Leader and Executive
Officer of the 9th Engineer Battalion in Germany. He served in
Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Captain Stone holds a
bachelors degree in Applied Mathematics from Appalachian State
University. Readers can contact his former unit at (904) 882-9046/7
or DSN 872-9046/7.